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Algeria unveils plan to establish 200,000 SMEs.

Byline: Regional Press Network (RPN)

Summary: Algeria has announced a plan to foster establishment of 200,000 new small and medium enterprises that would help in creating 3 million new jobs over the next five years. The SME plan is part of a sweeping, $150 billion development program for 2009-2014.

Natalia Nasser

Regional Press Network

BEIRUT: Algeria has announced a plan to foster establishment of 200,000 new small and medium enterprises that would help in creating 3 million new jobs over the next five years. The SME plan is part of a sweeping, $150 billion development program for 2009-2014.

Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika urged all ministers to fulfill their responsibilities to make realization of this huge plan "possible in areas under their charge," said a statement by Algeria's Council of Ministers after Bouteflika this Tuesday addressed the first cabinet meeting since his re-election on April 9.

The cabinet said in its statement that it adopted the presidential action plan, whose economic agenda also calls for improving the investment environment and for measures to help people without work - "and specifically the young" - to get micro-loans for setting up small businesses and increasing economic activity.

According to the statement, the five-year plan has sweeping ambitions ranging from affirmation of national unity to modernization of public administration and judiciary reform, in addition to developing and diversifying the national economy with public sector investment spending of $150 billion.

The country has previous experiences with several five-year plans from the 1980s which were implemented after the country declared itself to be a socialist state.

During the past six years, Algeria has built cash reserves estimated at over $140 billion from energy export - oil and gas - revenues.

Suffering from internal strife throughout the 1990s and into the current decade, the Bouteflika presidency has been associated with gradual internal reconciliation.

The country's economy grew to an estimated 10 trillion Algerian Dinars ($139 billion) nominal GDP in 2008 from DZD 6.1 trillion in 2004. Unemployment according to official figures was reduced from about 24 percent in 2003 to 11.7 percent in 2007 but youth unemployment in the workforce under 24 is still double of the general unemployment rate.

The current economic plan "was inspired by the Italian model in economy which is based on thousands of small and medium enterprises," a source told Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat.

Bouteflika linked the plan, which he had pledged to implement when campaigning for a third term as president, to the vast support from the populace in re-electing him on April 9. His re-election bid required a constitutional amendment to circumvent a limit to two terms.

As he was entering his third term, some analysts voiced skepticism that he would be able to meet all the targets of his new five-year action plan and see to creation of 3 million new jobs.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:May 15, 2009
Words:487
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